Puketāpapa Beaches

Taylor’s Bay

It’s summer in Tāmaki Makarau, and everyone is escaping the heat at the beach. Social media is flooded with pictures of people enjoying the sun, sand and water.

Only one thing is wrong – everyone’s leaving Puketāpapa to get their swims in. Why?

I could go into the history of the Manukau harbour here. The incredibly short sighted decisions, the shocking destruction of ecosystems and livelihoods. This twitter thread and this article discuss some of the issues if you want a deep dive.  Long story short – heaps of poo got dumped into the harbour and it was unsafe to swim for 50īsh years.

Fortunately, nowadays the harbour is much cleaner. Thanks to websites like Safe Swim, you can check whether the place you are going swimming is safe. These days, the ‘inner Manukau’ is cleaner more often than some of the Waitemata beaches that people flock to on a summer’s day. Yet at high tide, these beaches are often barren, with one or two people sitting on them.

A big reason for this is that people don’t even know these beaches exist – and I hope to change that. I’m going to do a power ranking post of the beaches of Puketāpapa, with pictures and amenity ratings, so that people might choose not to drive across town just for a dip.

I’ll be basing my rating on these categories:

Aesthetic:What does the beach look like? I’ll take in the whole environment surrounding the beach, as well as the water.

Cleanliness:How soft is the sand? How murky the footing? Are there oyster shells waiting to cut your feet? Does litter pervade the environment?

Accessibility: Can be a double-edged sword. Maybe you don’t want other people coming down to ‘your beach.’ I’m not one to judge. However, I will be assessing the ease of getting to the beach – can you get Public Transit? If not, is there parking? How far do you have to walk? Is the walk good?

Amenities: Are there toilets? A drinking fountain? Playground? What kind of activities can you get up to?

The ‘feel’Sometimes, you can’t quantify why you like something. You just do.

Disclaimer: All of these beaches are tidal. If you want to swim, go an hour either side of high tide.

You can check the tide here: https://tidesnear.me/tide_stations/4233

With that out of the way…. click the name of each beach to read about them.

Wattle Bay/Taunahi

Wattle Bay is one of my favourites. Accessible with a 15 minute bush walk from Sylvania Crescent, or down from Cape Horn Rd, there is a large grassed area beside the beach. At high tide, the water is nice and clear and the bay is surrounded by hectares of beautiful native bush, which supports a…

Taylor’s Bay

Rather unimaginatively named, Taylor’s Bay is arguably the most accessible and well provided for beach in Puketāpapa. There is plenty of nice white sand, a playground, a nice long grassed area, bushwalks heading over to Granny’s Bay and eventually there will be a boardwalk connecting it up to Taumanu Reserve. Taylor’s Bay used to be…

Wesley Bay

Wesley Bay is a nice, long, calm beach that retains its ‘swim time’ longer than most of the others along the coast. Named after the former Wesleyan mission which was ‘granted’ the land around these ways for establishing a school, there is history all along the cliffs above it. Frequented by dogwalkers, fishers and flounderers,…

Granny’s Bay

A slightly more interesting name than Taylor’s Bay, yet still relatively uninspiring, Granny’s Bay is a quiet little private beach accessible only via a walkway down from Bagley Street or from the walkway down from Hillsborough Cemetery. The privacy of this beach is what sets it apart – the beach itself isn’t the nicest, with…

Waikōwhai Bay

The bay that gives the area its name, Waikōhai can be beautiful on the right day. The name Waikōwhai means “Kōwhai trees by the water’s edge” and the valley used to be full of the beautiful flowering trees. There are some sections of the walkway that still feature impressive mature Kōwhai trees but unfortunately down…